The head of security at one of Victoria’s quarantine hotels has revealed the shambolic scenes during the early days of the program.
Elite Protection Services ran security at Rydges Hotel Swanston when the state government first rolled out mandatory quarantine in Victoria.
Owner Andy McLean said the program started on bad footing during a 500-paqe submission to the inquiry investigating how the deadly coronavirus seeped out of the hotel.
The hotel quarantine failings are understood to be responsible for the vast majority of Victoria’s second wave, with 819 dead in the state to date.
He has revealed a series of explosive allegations about security breaches, communication breakdowns and protocols.
The head of security at one of Victoria’s quarantine hotels has revealed the shambolic scenes during the early days of the program (pictured, Andy McLean of Elite Protection Services)
Mr McLean penned his concerns into a mammoth document which he submitted to the state government’s Inquiry into the Hotel Quarantine program.
But he said he was never called to make a submission on the day despite providing evidence of the bungled rollout, reported the Herald Sun.
Among his documentation was a series of incident reports recorded during the early days of the program on the company letterhead.
On April 19 an incident report was written about a security breach involving a guest bowling in the hallway.
‘At 10:05 I received a message from a guard that a guest had opened her door, walked into the hallway and arranged some bottles,’ a document obtained by the newspaper read.
Elite Protection Services ran security at Rydges Hotel Swanston (pictured) when the state government first rolled out mandatory quarantine in Victoria
‘She walked back to her room then rolled some oranges back at the bottles.
Another report from the same day involved a ‘misunderstanding’ between nurses which allowed a guest with coronavirus into another part of the hotel for a walk.
Mr McLean told Sky News it was clear the people involved were oblivious to the consequences of a potential security breach.
‘I don’t think any of us really knew how important this was, from a perspective of how dangerous the whole COVID situation was going to be,’ he said.
He said the panicked rolling out of the program at such a fast pace meant there was a serious lack of direction or cohesion in the chain of command.
‘It was red hot. When I say it was hot, it was a high-pressure environment. You had multiple departments having different ideas about the way things should be run,’ he added.
Recently arrived overseas travellers arrive at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne as part of Victoria’s hotel quarantine program (pictured on March 29)
Images emerged in September showing guests who were ordered to isolate inside their rooms during hotel quarantine walking to a nearby convenience store
‘It was just an ongoing conversation and obviously, we were trying to manage all of the things that needed to be managed.’
He also revealed there were ‘conflicts’ about whether travellers could order UberEats to their bedrooms and whether they could drink alcohol.
The company was subcontracted by Unified Security who had won the majority of a $30million government contract to deliver the program.
But EPS were dismissed after allegations of sexual harassment by a member of staff.
Mr McLean has denied the allegations.
The bungled hotel quarantine program eventually led to a State of Disaster being declared in Victoria and the state plunged into lockdown.
Damning emails reveal Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton (pictured) was told months ago private security would be used in the bungled hotel quarantine program
Private security guards were pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police in September (pictured, cleaning staff at a Melbourne CBD quarantine hotel on October 1)
Melbourne has only just emerged from three months in Stage Four lockdown, confining millions to their homes to stop the respiratory virus spreading.
Of the 907 deaths across Australia related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, 819 have been in Victoria.
The issue of who gave the green light to hire private security guards to run the program has become a political football.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told an inquiry that he had no idea contractors were being used until May.
But leaked emails published by the Age newspaper between him and staff from late March contradict these claims.
During the inquiry into the program he said he wasn’t aware of this fact under after the outbreak at Rydges on Swanston.
MELBOURNE’S ROADMAP OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO AND WHEN:
Step one: Came into effect on September 14
Step two: Came into effect on September 28
Step three: When there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The original aim was for October 26, brought forward to October 19 after the 14-day average of new cases fell below initial expectations, but again put on hold after new case numbers plateaued.
This has now been revamped to be a series of ‘mini-steps’ and more gradual easings as the numbers proved difficult to shift.
Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23
COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal.
FREEDOMS YOU GET AT EACH STEP OF EASING
Step one – came into effect September 14
– Curfew has been eased to 9pm-5am
– People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)
– Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours
– Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’
– Childcare and early educators to remain closed
– Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption
– Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry
– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only
– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect
– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping
Step two – came into effect September 28
– Melbourne’s curfew lifted
– Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households
– Childcare and early educators can re-open
– Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4
– There will be an increase to permitted workplaces
Step three – originally expected October 26, brought forward to October 19
– There are no restrictions on leaving home
– Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors
– A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another
– Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite
– Work from home is encouraged
– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor
– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed
– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment
– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked
Step four – expected in November, dependent on new case numbers:
– Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors
– Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time
– All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place
– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue
– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants
Step five – COVID normal:
– Public gatherings have no restriction
– There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes
– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers
– Schools to reopen as normal
– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records